GOVERNOR-GENERAL LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL BUILDING QUALITY CENTRE AT UC

 

 

 

Governor-General launches International Building Quality Centre at UC

The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), will officially launch the International Building Quality Centre (IBQC) at the University of Canberra today, 4 February 2020.

With jurisdictions across Australia and the world continually facing challenges with building regulations that have not delivered to the level of safety and security expected by the public, the Faculty of Arts and Design at UC has developed the IBQC where experts from around the world can work together to look at best practices and how they can be implemented, to create an industry with better quality outcomes.

“This centre has come out of the need to look at legislation, regulations and requirements of the building industry to make sure we have the right standards and quality of buildings going up, into the future,” said Professor Charles Lemckert, Head of School of Design and Built Environment at UC.

“We will look at all aspects of building quality, including fire safety and health related matters.”

“It is very timely given the Grenfell Tower incident, which is a cladding design issue. There have been building quality issues with the Opal Tower in Sydney and the Melbourne Cricket Ground,” said Professor Lemckert. “We now have the opportunity to step back, have a look at the industry, and make it better.”

There will be an opportunity for UC students to use the resources of the IBQC, with the centre to generate an online library that will compile best practice research publications and papers for students, law reformers, policymakers, practitioners and academics to use.

The IBQC aims to eventually become a sounding board providing opinion on the viability of regulatory initiatives in terms of their benchmarking with best-practice research.

WHAT: Launch of the International Building Quality Centre at UC
WHEN: Tuesday 4 February 2020, 10am-11am
WHERE: Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra (campus map)

Contact the University of Canberra media team:
Katarina Slavich, Media Officer
0408 826 362, or Katarina.slavich@canberra.edu.au

Megan Reeder Hope, Associate Director Media and Communications
0435 103 735, or megan.reederhope@canberra.edu.au

PLANS UNVEILED FOR THE FUTURE OF BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION

Dodgy developments will be a thing of the past under NSW Government plans that will see the implementation of ratings systems for professionals in the building industry and strong new powers to prevent occupation certificates from being issued on suspect developments.

The new rating system will help the building regulator determine who the risky players are in the industry and prevent dodgy apartments from being sold to unexpecting buyers .

The changes form part of the NSW Building Commissioner’s work plan which, for the first time, outlines publicly how the government plans to overhaul the building and construction industry in NSW under Six Reform Pillars.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the reforms will improve transparency, accountability and quality of work within the industry.

“These reforms are a complete game changer for consumers, the government and the building industry as a whole,” Mr Anderson said.

“Simply put, customers need better built buildings, and our reforms will deliver that. Anyone who doesn’t want to get on board with tha t concept will get left behind.”

The six reform pillars cover legislation and regulations changes, ratings systems, improving skills within the industry, ensuring contracts help meet standards, digitising the industry and establishing NSW as a leader in modern construction methods.

NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler said the old days of being reactionary to problems in the industry can’t continue.

“The government has a great deal of resources available, including inspectors, which is why we need to make sure we’re using those resources in the best way possible to protect consumers from major defects,” Mr Chandler said.

Mr Anderson said passing the Design and Building Practitioners Bill, which is currently held up in the NSW Upper House, is crucial to the progression of building reforms.

“We’re asking the opposition and the cross bench to put consumers ahead of politics and let us get on with the building reforms, every day these reforms are delayed is another day homeowners go without the necessary protection s,” Mr Anderson said.

The NSW Upper House will resume debate on the Design and Building Practitioners Bill in the last week of February.

MEDIA: Michael Hansen | 0427 514 090

 

SIX PILLARS OF REFORM

To help streamline the reform process, the government has established six specialised work streams, or ‘Pillars’.

By establishing the Six Reform Pillars we can ensure people with specialised knowledge and skills in each of the reform areas can remain focussed on their expertise. It also means that several projects can be worked on simultaneously to expedite the delivery of the reforms.

The Six Reform Pillars will not be driven by government alone. Each of the Pillars will be underpinned by its own working group, made up of professionals with lived knowledge and experience in the subject before them.

To maximise the impact of the reforms, we need to ensure that the right people are at the table when decisions are made.

The Six Reform Pillars are further explained here.

NEW MASTER BUILDERS NATIONAL PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SENATE TO PASS ENSURING INTEGRITY LAWS

The newly elected President of the nation’s peak building and construction industry advocacy organisation has urged the Senate to pass the Ensuring Integrity laws.

Simon Butt was elected National President of Master Builders Australia on the weekend at a meeting of Master Builders Associations the building and construction industry in each state and territory.

“There was an overwhelming consensus from Master Builders’ members around the country that the Ensuring Integrity laws are vital to protecting building businesses from union bullying and restoring the rule of law in our industry,” Simon Butt said.

“Our industry for years been afflicted by the bullying, intimidation and thuggery of construction unions and their officials, some of whom repeatedly flout the law and bully small building businesses almost every day. We need the Ensuring Integrity laws to make sure there are real consequences that will act as a deterrent for these flagrant reoffenders,” Simon Butt said.

Simon Butt has more than 30 years of experience in the building and construction industry. Simon is highly regarded in the ACT and ‘Canberra Region’ where he is a former President of Master Builders ACT .

Simon is Chief Executive of Manteena, an award-winning Canberra based construction contractor with a track record of working on some of the most iconic projects in the nation’s capital including Parliament House, and completing construction projects across Australia and internationally in 23 countries.

Simon is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Building and Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2018 he was appointed an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra.

For further information contact: Ben Carter, Director Media & Public Affairs – 0447 775 507

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST – AUSTRALIAN BUILDING CODES BOARD NCC EDUCATION & AWARENESS

 

 

 

 

Australian Building Codes Board are seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a secondment opportunity in the role of Senior Project Officer (EL1) in the NCC Education and Awareness team at the ABCB.

Click here to download the “how to apply” document

Download advert here. 

For more information please contact:
Clare Wright – Group Manager, NCC Education and Awareness
02 6276 17700 or email Clare.Wright@abcb.gov.au 

ACIF FORECASTS MARKET DRAGGED DOWN BY RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION BUT NOT OUT

The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) forecasts that the decline in Residential Building will be so deep that it will dominate the outlook for building and construction, dragging down economic growth and employment. The outlook has been detailed in the latest Australian Construction Market Report, released today. ACIF indicates there have been recent signs of improvement in some markets, but it will take time for the impact to be felt throughout all building and construction markets.

“The lowest interest rates on record have been reduced even more, despite this access to finance and credit has presented a significant hurdle to developers, builders, investors and owner occupiers. Market adversity has encouraged builders to withdraw from development of new projects; we witnessed new dwelling approvals plummet last year and commencements have also fallen. A fall in residential building activity is locked into the pipeline and this will take a while for this to be put into reverse,” said ACIF Construction Forecasting Council Chair Bob Richardson.​

Residential Building Activity
Residential Building work fell 0.4% last year (2018-19). A much deeper contraction of 8.4% is expected this year (2019-20), dragging the value of work done down to $96 billion. The rebound in building activity is expected to be delayed until 2021-22. The drop in activity will be difficult to avoid despite recent improvements in house prices because it will take time to restore approval numbers, secure land and commence new projects and address other ‘lags’.

Building and Construction Work Done ($ billion)

Non-Residential Building Activity
In marked contrast to Residential Building, Non-Residential Building activity is midway through a growth phase. Expanded business investment in Accommodation, Industrial and Offices, and Public sector investment, especially in Education and Defence. Growth is expected to continue through the remainder of this year and into 2020-21. This will raise activity to peak at $45 billion.

Infrastructure Construction Activity
Work done in Infrastructure Construction contracted by 5.5% last year to $62 billion. This reflected the completion of large projects, and delays in shifting to new projects which are often in different sectors and geographies. Infrastructure construction activity is expected to return to growth in line with expanded plans and programs, raising work done to $66 billion in 2019-20 and $68 billion in 2020-21.

Total Building and Construction Activity
While the downturn in Residential Building activity is expected to deepen this year, the depth of the decline will be offset by increases in other building and construction activities. The expected rebound in Infrastructure Construction spending will be too little too late to prevent a fall in total building and construction activity this year. Growing Infrastructure Construction spending will be sufficient to stabilise the amount of building and construction work to be done in 2020-21 and lead to a return to growth in 2021-22.

Employment in building and construction
Construction employment is projected to fall 2% to 1,159,000 jobs over this year, reflecting the significant decline in Residential Building activity that will be difficult to avoid. This is a concern because Residential Building is the most labour-intensive type of building and construction. Construction employment is projected to track sideways for 2-3 years based on relative stability in the level of total building and construction activity.

Building and Construction Activity in Summary 

 

 

 

 

 

Industry Outlook
Total building and construction work fell 8.2% last year to $233 billion. A further fall of 1.7% is expected this year (2019-20). Most, of the large losses in Residential Building activity are expected to be offset by increases in Infrastructure Construction and Non-Residential Building.

Download PDF Media Release here.

About Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF)
Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) is the trusted voice of the Australian construction industry. ACIF facilitates and supports an active dialogue between key players in residential and non-residential building, and engineering construction, other industry groups, and government agencies. ACIF’s focus is on innovation, collaboration, equity and sustainability for the industry. More information on ACIF is available from ​www.acif.com.au​.

BUILDERS RAISE CONCERN ABOUT MANSLAUGHTER LAW

Builders Raise Concern About Manslaughter Law

A key building industry lobby group has raised concern about new legislation which could see bosses who negligently cause death of their workers facing up to 20 year’s jail or up to $16.5 million in fines, saying that the new offence should apply to all parties in workplaces and will adversely impact small business.

The Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) has raised concerns about three aspects of proposed new laws which were introduced into the Victorian Parliament on Tuesday that will create a new offense for workplace manslaughter under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

Under the proposed changes, employers who negligently cause a workplace death will face fines of up to $16.5 million and up to twenty year’s jail in the case of individuals.

The offence will apply to employers, self-employed people and ‘officers’ of the employers (such as company directors).

The legislation will also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of a member of the public.

The new laws follows recommendations contained in the final report of a senate inquiry into industrial deaths released in October 2018 for the nationally consistent implementation of an industrial manslaughter offence.

The inquiry called for states and territories to use as a starting point existing Queensland laws which were introduced after fatalities which occurred at the Dreamworld Theme Park and the Eagle Farm construction site in 2016.

In a statement, Victorian Minster for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy said no-one should die at work and that the government was committed to holding accountable those who negligently cause deaths.

“I cannot begin to imagine the pain felt by the families who have lost a loved one at work,” Hennessy said.

“All workers deserve a safe workplace and the proposed laws send a clear message to employers that putting people’s lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated.”

So far this year, 19 Victorians have died at work.

But MBAV has raised concern about the proposed new law.

In a statement, MBAV chief executive officer Rebecca Casson said the law should apply to anyone who engages in criminally negligent conduct which results in death in a workplace

As well as organisations and senior officers, this should include workers themselves.

Responsibility for safety, Casson said, should be shared between employers and their workers and should be approached in a spirit of collaboration.

Toward this end, she says legal responsibility where negligence occurs should apply to all involved in a workplace – not just employers and company officers.

Casson also expresses concern that the burden of the new laws will fall disproportionately on small employers, who typically have a more hands on role in company operations.

Finally, the legislation should be accompanied by education and support both for businesses themselves to provide safe workplaces and for Worksafe officials to manage the complexities associated with manslaughter cases (currently, manslaughter investigations are conducted by highly trained Victoria Police officers).

“The Victorian Government has today introduced a new workplace manslaughter law to Parliament,” Casson said.

“If passed as drafted, this law risks failing to create safer workplaces while imposing fines of around $16 million and up to 20 years jail for employers responsible for negligently causing death.

“We accept that the Government has a mandate to introduce workplace manslaughter legislation, but these laws should be fair and equitable.”

Written by Andrew Heaton 

Source: soureable.net

STRONGER POWERS FOR BUILDING REGULATOR UNDER NEW LAW

Media Release
The Hon Richard Wayne MP
Minister for Planning
Minister for Housing Minister for Multicultural Affairs

The Andrews Labor Government is delivering greater protections for building and apartment owners under sweeping new changes introduced to Parliament today.

The Building and Environment Protection Legislation Amendment Bill will give stronger powers to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to investigate illegal phoenix activity, where companies deliberately go into administration to avoid liability for building work before re-emerging as a new entity.

The Bill strengthens the fit and proper person tests required for practitioner registration by incorporating financial probity requirements. This will allow greater scrutiny of company directors, secretaries and influential persons as part of the registration process.

The VBA will be able to refuse applications for new registration, or renewal of registration, if the applicant is suspected to have engaged in illegal phoenix activity at any time over the previous two years.

The Bill also expands existing suspension powers for building practitioners responsible for unsafe works to ensure that plumbers and architects can also face immediate suspension. This power was introduced for building practitioners in 2018 and has already been used by the VBA.

The Bill will also:

  • modernise and strengthen the Architects Registration Board of Victoria to ensure that the Board can effectively respond to present and future challenges and improve consumer protection and confidence in the industry; and
  • wind up the Building Practitioners Board and transfer its outstanding inquiries to the VBA for a more streamlined, efficient assessment.

While the Labor Government is doing all it can to identify and stop illegal phoenix activity, the Federal Government needs to make changes to national company laws for it to be properly stamped out.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne

“This bill is about giving Victorians more confidence in the building sector and helping the VBA to weed out those doing the wrong thing.”

“Plumbers and architects can face immediate suspension under these new laws, as well as not having their industry registration renewed.”

“We’re taking action to help curb illegal phoenix activity and it’s about time our Commonwealth counterparts did the same.”

 

Media contact: Nicole Bland 0417 375 623 | nicole.bland@minstaff.vic.gov.au

GREATER PROTECTION FOR BUILDING OWNERS

Gordon Ramsay MLA
Attorney-General
Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries & Cultural Events
Minister for Building Quality Improvement
Minister for Business and Regulatory Services
Minister for Seniors and Veterans
Member for Ginninderra 24 October 2019

Greater protection for building owners

Building owners will receive better protection from dodgy builders and developers following the introduction of laws to make company directors personally liable for building defects.

“The amendments will prevent corporations from undermining the system and deliberately avoiding their regulatory obligations by winding up their company” Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay said.

“There have been instances where building corporations have produced substandard buildings, and when called to account, they have closed their business to leave the cost of rectification to the building owners.

“We’re strengthening our regulatory regime, with new powers to allow rectification orders to be issued to the directors of licensed corporations, and to make directors liable for unpaid financial penalties.

“New provisions will also provide greater safeguards for the community by allowing the Construction Occupations Registrar to publish information about stop notices if necessary or desirable to protect the public.

“These changes are important for the ACT and further support the range of building regulatory reforms already introduced by the ACT Government to improve practices across the building industry.

“The ACT Government has an ongoing commitment to improve building quality so that every Canberran can live and work in safe, high quality buildings.”

Other amendments introduced in the bill are:

  • Powers for building inspectors to direct builders and landowners in relation to non-compliant building work
  • Provisions that allow people to enter into enforceable actions to rectify work
  • Clear requirements for licensed corporations to have an effective system of management.

For more information visit: https://www.planning.act.gov.au/build-buy-renovate/home/welcome

Statement ends

Media contact: Anton Gallacher
T (02) 6207 3795  M 0422 574 E: gallacher@act.gov.au

ACT Legislative Assembly
Phone (02) 6205 2615   Email: ramsay@act.gov.au

CONSTRUCTING OUR WORLD WRAP UP

Constructing Our World Wrap Up
By Dr Robyn Hardy 

The Australian Institute of Building’s first international conference in years was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney’s iconic Rocks District (18-20 Sept 2019). We are happy to say the feedback was a resounding thumbs up. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the program.

The three day conference started with four great site visits. Despite the weather (raining!) the tour group was treated to a very privileged view of the underground and behind the scenes activities and works of the Opera House, the Coal Loader Platform, Barangaroo and the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at UTS. Our hosts at each venue provided fascinating insights into the construction issues at each site. We all got thoroughly soaked (the ponchos were appreciated even so) but came away happy we had all seen something we would not normally have had a chance to see as a local or a tourist in Sydney.

The themes for day one of the conference were “People” and “Process Innovation.” Delegates were welcomed to the conference with a message from the Commonwealth Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews, MP, and challenged straight away by the brilliance of Adam Spencer and his predictions for the impact of technological change on the world and the building industry.

During the first morning the audience was challenged to continue their own self education and improvement by Tony Avsec from LendLease (and AIB’s Chair of the CPD Sub-Committee), and confronted by the disturbing statistics of mental health issues prevalent in our industry by Chris Lockwood from Mates in Construction. Prof Benita Zulch our first international speaker informed us of the challenges faced by South Africa in educating their building workforce. Adjunct Professor Chris Bulmer presented on how to build excellence in service delivery of a construction business through effective HR strategies and leadership.

The afternoon session of Day 1 was a celebration of innovation in projects, starting with the wonderful Franklin Po from Tierra Design Studio in Singapore and his multipurpose sustainable designs for infrastructure in Singapore. Shiva Ghazal and David Beslich from Hansen Yuncken then took to the stage and wowed us all with their presentation about transforming HY’s technology platforms. The sustainability theme was continued with another of our international presenters, Tan Szue Hann from MINIWIZ Singapore with his inspiring and informative talk about promoting recycling and the circular economy. Meriton’s David Cremona presented his philosophy on succeeding with today’s challenges and raised some of the issues which were to feature on day 2. The day finished with a wonderful presentation by Alastair Brook from PDC Engineering showing us examples of the use of BIM on large and small projects throughout Australia.

After a night of celebrating the year’s best projects, great food, wine and music, day 2 started with a very informative presentation from one of Australia’s best financial journalists, James Kirby.  His presentation was followed Neil Savery of the Building Codes Board, Graeme Birkhead (President of the NZIOB),  Jim Moschoyiannis (L.U. Simon Builders) and John Tansey (NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation) to set the scene for the building issues Mini Summit which was the highlight of the morning. Graeme Birkhead’s illuminating New Zealand perspective on what he called “the Australianization of the NZ building industry”, a process resulting from numerous bankruptcy and liquidation processes with NZ building companies was a sobering but familiar issue for the conference audience.

The AIB assembled an eminent panel of discussants for the Mini Summit including: John Tansey (NSW Government), Graeme Birkhead (NZIOB), Karl Sullivan (Insurance Council of Australia), Jim Moschoyiannis (L.U. Simon), Brian Seidler (Executive Director, MBA NSW), Stephen Williams (TAYLORs), David Burnell (AIB National President). The panel discussed the current issues facing the industry including concerns with defective buildings; cladding and standards for materials; issues with building certification, licensing or lack thereof; registration of builders; the education and training of builders and building supervisors; insurance coverage for builders, owners and building surveyors; the problems with delivery models such as design and construct and special purpose company vehicles(SPVs); incomplete and error ridden design documentation; responsibility for design; taxation treatment of research and innovation; the lack of regulatory coordination across Australian States and Territories and shortages of skilled labour. The delegates were informed about the progress of the NSW and Commonwealth building reform processes and members of the panel expressed their views about what might and might not be appropriate and effective responses by government to the current problems.

Having frankly hashed out our building problems in the morning the afternoon was over to our youth and the future leaders of our building industry from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa, and wow! we were all amazed at how intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful each presentation was. There is hope for us all yet given the calibre of each of these young people! Delegates from each of these countries can be proud that their young builder representatives were absolutely impressive.

The three days concluded with a farewell from our hard working AIB National President David Burnell and a reminder that in 2021 the conference will move on to Singapore. We look forward to seeing you all there.

AIB CEO Greg Hughes, Dr Robyn Hardy and National President David Burnell 

RECORD INFRASTRUCTURE SPEND THE NEW NORMAL, 2019 AUSTRALIAN INFRASTRUCTURE WARNS

 

 

A new wave of investment and reform is needed to ensure Australia’s infrastructure continues to support our quality of life and economic productivity over the next 15 years, according to the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit published today by Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor.

“Changing and growing demand, and a mounting maintenance backlog is putting unprecedented pressure on the infrastructure services each and every Australian relies on. The current infrastructure program must do more than plug the immediate funding gap, but instead deliver long-term changes to the way we plan, fund and deliver infrastructure,” said Infrastructure Australia Chair, Julieanne Alroe.

“Rather than a short-term boom, the historic level of activity we are seeing in the sector must, and is likely, to continue for the next 15 years and potentially beyond. This must be the new normal if we are to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead,” Ms Alroe said.

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit presents a forward-looking view of our infrastructure challenges and opportunities over the next 15 years and beyond. It is the second national Audit Infrastructure Australia has undertaken, after the first was published in 2015, and examines the infrastructure needs of the Australian community and industry – covering the major infrastructure sectors of energy, transport, telecommunications, water – and for the first time, social infrastructure and waste.

“Since the last Australian Infrastructure Audit we released in 2015, Australia’s governments have made important progress to promote reform, improve planning and address infrastructure gaps. More than $123 billion of construction work has commenced since 2015, with a committed forward pipeline of over $200 billion. However, there is much more to do to ease the pressures of growth, catalyse development and enable our businesses to compete on a global stage,” Ms Alroe said.

“The 2019 Audit finds that infrastructure in our four largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – is failing to keep pace with rapid population growth, particularly on the urban fringe. With our population projected to grow by 24% to reach 31.4 million by 2034, our largest cities are expected to see pressure on access to infrastructure.

“The dominance of infill development in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will require investment in high capacity public transport, enhancements to existing energy and water infrastructure, improved shared spaces and a renewal of inner city health and education services.

“In contrast, the growing outer suburbs of the other major cities, including Perth, where greenfield development will dominate, is are expected to see pressure on their road networks, as well as expansion of utility networks, new shared and recreation spaces as well as cultural facilities.

“The costs of inaction are significant. If investment were to stop, the cost of road congestion is projected to grow by $18.9 billion to $38.7 billion in 2031. This impacts quality of life, as well as our economic productivity and competitiveness as a nation,” said Ms Alroe.

The 2019 Audit puts the community at the centre of infrastructure planning, using user-focused measures of access, quality and cost, it also highlights how service quality varies greatly for Australians depending on where they live.

“Infrastructure quality is high in our urban centres, including our smaller cities and regional centres. However unlike our larger cities, there is often little choice of the types of services that people can access. These centres are also growing as regional service hubs as smaller towns shrink and people relocate to these larger centres. This in turn places greater importance on high quality transport links,” said Ms Alroe.

“Improvements in digital connectivity have helped, providing access to new services like on demand transport and electric vehicles, while improving access for people in regional areas through tele-health and improved communications. However, we need to do more to ensure small towns and regional communities also benefit from these advancements.

“Satellite cities – such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Geelong, the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast – benefit from high levels of infrastructure access and quality as a result of their proximity to their larger neighbours. While these cities have the capacity to support growth, additional investment will be needed to ensure services are of an appropriate scale to support increased population.

“Poorer access to infrastructure services in our remote communities is reinforcing disadvantage. In many parts of the country, service provision falls below what is acceptable for a highly developed nation, including remote communities experiencing social housing overcrowding, limited access to drinking water, inadequate transport and poor telecommunications, which in turn translates to poorer health standards and quality of life for their residents.

“For industry, well-targeted infrastructure investment is critical to support international competitiveness. Our supply chains, and key inputs like water and energy, are well understood products of infrastructure, however the health and education of the workforce are highly dependent on social infrastructure and subsequently so too is national productivity,” Ms Alroe said.

New analysis of the Household Expenditure Survey conducted for the Audit found the average household spent over $314 each week on infrastructure in 2015/16 – or $16,000 annually.

“Australians earning the lowest 20% of incomes across the country spend around a third of what they earn on infrastructure. This is above a level that would be considered affordable.

“Australian’s perceptions of affordability are mixed, and often perceptions do not align with actual service costs. While concerns about rising energy prices are widely held, the proportion of household incomes spent on energy is relatively low, 2-6%, in contrast to transport which accounts for between 10-22%.

“Data on infrastructure affordability is poor and outdated, and more needs to be done to provide transparency to the community on infrastructure access and quality,” said Ms Alroe.

The 2019 Audit also finds that constant and rapid change is creating challenges for the way we plan, design and deliver infrastructure.

“A clear challenge that emerges from the 2019 Audit is that our current tools are not well placed to deal with many of the new infrastructure problems we are facing in today’s rapidly changing environment. Our population is growing and changing, the structure of the economy is shifting, our communities and environment are experiencing weather extremes, and rapid technology change is fundamentally reshaping our day-to-day lives.

“Growing social, economic and environmental interdependencies have added complexity to planning, delivering and operating our infrastructure.

“Projects across Australia are getting larger and increasingly complex, and will require new approaches if they are to be effectively delivered. So-called mega projects – projects larger than $1 billion in value – are becoming the default, increasing the burden on the sector, and in some cases exceeding industry capacity. If we are going to continue to be productive and accommodate change, we need to grow industry skills and capacity.

“The 2019 Audit finds that engagement with customers and the broader community on project planning, needs to increase across most sectors and jurisdictions. A failure to engage can carry substantial costs to projects, and it is estimated that around $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects was delayed, cancelled or mothballed due to community opposition over the past decade.

“Better engagement with communities and businesses can help to establish a social licence for projects as it provides an opportunity to incorporate their feedback through project planning and delivery. Establishing genuine community buy-in for need to reform must be a priority for government and industry alike as we embark on a new era of investment and reform to meet Australia’s changing and growing infrastructure needs,” Ms Alroe said.

Consultation

Infrastructure Australia is calling for feedback and submissions in response to 136 challenges and 44 opportunities identified in the 2019 Audit. Submissions will be open until 31 October 2019.

Submissions are accepted via the Infrastructure Australia website, and will inform the approach and recommendations for reform identified in the forthcoming Australian Infrastructure Plan. Submissions identifying projects and initiatives for the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List are also open until 31 August.